Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you seen these tweets such as ‘Participate in the #HourofCode’ or ‘Visit www.code.org’ floating around every day on Twitter?
I decided to pay www.code.org a visit to see what it was all about – and what a pleasant surprise I got! In fact, I was AMAZED to see what an incredible website this is. It caters for every age group of learners from Pre-Reader to Grade 9+. The website urged us to ‘Try a one-hour tutorial designed for all ages in over 45 languages. Join millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an #HourofCode.“ I was delighted about the opportunity of getting my younger learners trying out one of the two Minecraft tutorials. So began an “HourofCode” experience with a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 class…
The best way to start something new like this is to choose a tutorial for your learners, such as the Minecraft tutorial, and go through it yourself. Incidentally, there are many other options, in addition to Minecraft, on this website. Here are just a few!
The next thing is to make sure the earphones are working at every computer and that the Internet is available. You can also get learners to partner up if necessary and help each other. (If you don’t have Internet, there is an offline version of Minecraft that can be downloaded!)
Introduce the #HourofCode
1. Talk a little bit about what coding is, why it matters, and why it’s such a fun activity! You could start off by showing a very short coding video to put the Hour of Code into context. One is available here http://bit.ly/1t7Lqmb
2. Ask what the learners think of when they hear the word ‘Code’?
- How apps and websites are made
- The language people use to give technology instructions. The language is code!
- It’s about solving problems
- Lets you create things from scratch, so it helps to be as imaginative and creative as possible
- It involves working with friends and sharing solutions
- It can be about the things you like to do. People that like TV shows can build their own blog that talks about the latest episodes; someone that likes video games can build their own; someone that likes sports can build an app that shows stats of their favourite team, If someone likes cartoons and superheroes, they can make a website about their favourite characters
Keep this introduction short and sweet so that the learners can get started.
Get started with the tutorials
You could write the URL on the board if you wish. I told my classes to go to the URL code.org and then look for Minecraft. There are two options once you get to Minecraft. Since my classes had never played Minecraft before, I asked them to start with the option on the right ‘Minecraft Adventurer’.
I encouraged them to watch the opening video about ‘Jens’
the Lead Development at Minecraft before starting on the tutorial.
After that they chose their character and they got
Incidentally, as your class works through the activity and if they come across difficulties, tell them to “Ask 3 then me.” They ask 3 classmates, and if they don’t have the answer, then ask the teacher. Encourage students and offer positive reinforcement such as: “You’re doing great, so keep trying.”
My experience with Grade 2 and Grade 3
Well, I was totally impressed with these two classes. They picked up the way Minecraft works very quickly, and I couldn’t get them to stop at the end of each lesson! They loved the 13 steps of achievement and encouragement leading to the final certificate.
This was a great experience both for me and my learners! The great thing about www.code.org is that it is open all the year round. So, if you don’t get a chance to participate in the Hour of Code in December, you can get your learners to participate at any other time as well. The important thing is just to do it!
Get involved in the Microsoft MIEE program in 2017
If you are a teacher who likes to be innovative in the classroom, think about entering Microsoft’s Innovative Teacher MIEExpert program in 2016/2017 when applications reopen later in the year. You can learn more about the program at this link: http://bit.ly/1H4gKcB on the Microsoft Educator Community.